END performing as part of Alteredbeats with Saskrotch , Adjust , Blaerg and Mourningside Excursion , at Tequila Lounge (794 Bathurst), Friday (February 25). $10. http://alteredbeats.com Rating: NNNNN
Of the many laptop artists lumped into the misleadingly named intelligent dance music (IDM) category, New York's Charles Peirce is one of the few really deserving of his own subgenre.
Though the AlteredBeats flyer's attempt to classify the deviously twisted soundscapes he synthesizes under his End alias as "rockabilly breakcore white-trash jazz" does suggest the complexity of the sonic collisions at work, the cumbersome handle doesn't quite hit it.
What separates Peirce from the rest of the IDM crowd is that he doesn't have your typical reformed house DJ or ex-punk rocker background, so he isn't interested in electronically fucking with popular club joints or making Dirty South-style crunk music for nerdy Northerners.
Instead, his kitchen-sink aesthetic is more typical of a deep-digging record collector - not the sort bent on acquiring odd variations of Beatles picture sleeve singles, but the kind who will grab a self-released 7-inch by trucker country cult star Dick Curless to cop the bizarre apocalyptic rant. Whatever's clever.
On Peirce's most recent End album, The Sounds Of Disaster (Ipecac), you're more likely to hear elements of twisted 50s exotica and sinister 60s crime jazz with some twangy surf guitar bits thrown in for good measure than anything trendy happening in the clubs at the moment. That's what you get when a confirmed vinyl junkie is allowed to make records.
"Because most of the people making music in this broadly defined genre I'm in [IDM] are coming out of club culture," explains Peirce from his NYC pad, "they're still reacting to that and still think in terms of conventional breakbeats, rave stabs and big keyboard parts.
"They like to mash up the latest pop song - take something sweet and make it sour - but I can't be bothered listening to the radio. I'm in my own little world.
"I love all that weird 50s and 60s exotica and surf rock, too. That's mostly what I collect, so naturally it shows up in the music I make. Lately I've been getting more into traditional country music from the 70s. There's so many crazy beats on some of those records, but most producers would never even consider checking them out. I'm not complaining - that's great for me."
Listening to the dark and demented rumble of The Sounds Of Disaster - which at times recalls the blurting brilliance of Jim Thirlwell's Steroid Maximus grind - it's no secret that Peirce based the album on the themes of death and destruction. The intriguing twist is that Peirce says the album is largely autobiographical.
"Yeah, I've been shot at," Peirce says, like it happens every day. "It was about 2 am and I'd just gotten off the bus a few blocks from where I live and saw this guy strapped with guns and a samurai sword dragging someone he'd shot toward the corner where I was standing with some other people. He opened fire and we all scattered.
"And then there was that home invasion that happened while I was staying at a friend's place. So I've seen my share of terribly violent situations.
"But everyone experiences horrible things. It can derail your life if you let it, but you can also think, 'Hey, I'm still alive - it's not so bad,' and try to turn the negative into something positive.
"That's what I tried to do."